About PCVC at IU

PCVC (Personal Computer for Video Conferencing) is a term coined by Indiana University Collaboration Technologies to describe an audio-visual integration design concept in which a typical computer with a webcam and microphone is used as the heart of a meeting room's conferencing system. Until recently, the only viable method for assuring good audio and video in a meeting room was to deploy a specialized H.323 videoconferencing hardware appliance, such as those manufactured by Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, and others. However, with today's faster PCs, HD-quality USB webcams, and improved acoustic echo-cancellation algorithms built into many of the most popular conferencing software clients, it is now possible to build a PC-based room conferencing system that can deliver a superb HD conferencing experience at nearly half the cost of a dedicated H.323 videoconferencing appliance.

IU's PCVC integration concept honors many of the best practices borrowed from high-end videoconferencing systems to create an immersive conferencing experience. These include large single- or dual-screen TV configurations, seated eye-height camera positioning for an at-the-table feel, and an emphasis on a clean installation without cable clutter. The entire stand-alone system can be easily assembled in about three hours without modifications to existing walls (no Facility Operations assistance necessary). Additionally, most of the parts in a typical PCVC room setup are easily ordered through IU's B2B stores.

PCVC's greatest strength is its flexibility, opening the meeting room to many conferencing solutions that previously could only be used by individuals at their desktops. Unlike specialized videoconferencing hardware appliances that can only communicate with other systems that support the H.323/SIP protocol, PCVC natively supports many of the most popular conferencing software tools, including:

  • Skype for Business/Lync: You can use the Skype for Business/Lync client in the meeting room just as you would from your desktop, for instant messaging, telephone calls, video, and screen sharing.
  • Zoom: You can use Zoom in the meeting room just as you would from your desktop. For more, see About Zoom at IU.
  • Skype: This is the world's most popular consumer videoconferencing tool, and can be run natively on a meeting room PC.

PCVC limitations and considerations

  • Room size: PCVC is only a suitable solution for smaller conference rooms (e.g., with nine or fewer people at the table).
  • Microphones and acoustics: Because PCVC relies exclusively on the echo-cancellation algorithms of software clients that are designed primarily for small office and desktop use, it is critical that the meeting room be acoustically flat (not "hard" or "echo-y") and that persons be seated relatively close to the microphone.
  • Fixed camera shot: The HD web camera can only take a fixed wide shot of the table, unlike the more expensive hardware appliance cameras that have the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom in for closeups of individuals.
  • PC Management: Management of the room PC is the sole responsibility of the conference room owner (there is currently no centralized STC build for a "PCVC image").
  • Guest laptop: A guest laptop image can be displayed locally in the room. However, the guest laptop image cannot be presented to the remote site in a conference.
  • Movies and audio sharing: While it is possible to share the computer screen with the remote site(s) using almost any of the software client options available, it is not possible to share computer content that contains movies and/or computer audio with the remote site.

For an illustration of a typical PCVC room setup and parts list, see PCVC Room and Parts List (PDF).

For help or to learn more, contact UITS Classroom & Conferencing Support (cthelp@iu.edu, 812-856-2020, Skype for Business/Lync: cthelp).

This is document bcli in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-04-24 16:50:41.

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